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What is the Buccinator Muscle?

Yash Solanki, Dan Washmuth
  • Author
    Yash Solanki

    Yash Solanki has taught post-secondary science for over four years. He has a bachelors degree in Biology from Iowa State University, and has worked as a scientific researcher at multiple global institutions.

  • Instructor
    Dan Washmuth

    Dan has taught college Nutrition and Anatomy courses for several years. He has a B.S. in Exercise Physiology from Furman University and a M.S. in Dietetics & Nutrition from Florida International University. He is a Registered Dietitian (RD) and a Certified Exercise Physiologist (EP-C)

What is the buccinator muscle? Learn what the buccinator muscle is and the buccinator muscle functions. Learn about buccinator muscle origin and insertion. Updated: 08/08/2021

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Buccinator Muscle

What is the buccinator muscle? The buccinator muscle is a muscle found in the cheeks of the human face. It is a thin muscle with a quadrilateral shape. The buccinator belongs to a group of facial muscles known as the buccolabial group. The eleven buccolabial muscles are:

  • Levator labii superioris
  • Levator labii superioris alaeque nasi
  • Risorius
  • Levator anguli oris
  • Zygomaticus major
  • Zygomaticus minor
  • Depressor labii inferioris
  • Depressor anguli oris
  • Mentalis
  • Orbicularis oris
  • Buccinator

This muscle comprises three parts, namely the superior, inferior, and posterior parts. These names are derived from anatomical terms regarding position on the body. Superior and inferior relate to the body's vertical axis, with superior meaning higher and inferior meaning lower. Posterior defines a position that is toward the backside of the body. From these terms, the relative positions of the three parts of the buccinator muscle can be understood.

The buccinator muscle is located in the cheeks on the human face.

buccinator location

This muscle serves important functions related to mastication, which is known as the process of chewing in layman terms. Apart from chewing, it is also involved in certain other actions of the mouth, such as blowing, swallowing, and sucking.

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  • 0:48 Muscle Origin and Insertion
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Buccinator Muscle Function

What does the buccinator muscle do? As previously mentioned, the major role of this muscle is in the process of mastication or chewing. During chewing, the buccinator functions to maintain the cheeks' tightness by compressing it inwards and holding the cheek close to the teeth. This tightness is important in preventing the inner lining of the cheek (buccal mucosa) from injury from being bitten by the teeth. The major buccinator action is the muscle's contraction when the mouth is closing and relaxation when the mouth is opening. Furthermore, because this muscle thickens the cheek, it causes the bolus of food (which is formed during mastication) to be pushed toward the tongue and the middle of the oral cavity.

Other buccinator functions include the actions of blowing, swallowing, and sucking. The buccinator muscle generally performs these actions in conjunction with other facial muscles, such as the orbicularis oris and superior constrictor muscle. The buccinator muscle's involvement in blowing air from the mouth is why it is sometimes also referred to as the "trumpet muscle." Some muscle fibers from the buccinator muscle are also involved in the secretion of saliva from the parotid duct.

The buccinator muscle is involved in the secretion of saliva from the parotid duct (which has been labeled in the above diagram).

buccinator action

Buccinator Muscle Origin and Insertion

This section will discuss the buccinator origin and insertions. As previously mentioned, the buccinator muscle's location is in the cheeks of the human face. The three parts of the buccinator muscle - i.e., the superior, inferior, and posterior parts - each originate from different parts of the skull bones. The superior part of the buccinator muscle originates from the maxilla or the upper jaw bone. Specifically, it originates on the outer surface of the alveolar process of the maxilla, which is opposite to the three upper (maxillary) molar teeth.

The inferior part of the muscle originates from the mandible or lower jaw bone. Specifically, it originates from the alveolar process of the mandible, from a part known as the buccinator ridge, which is opposite to the three lower (mandibular) molar teeth. The posterior part of the buccinator muscle originates from the pterygomandibular raphe at its anterior margin. The pterygomandibular raphe is a tendinous band that connects the muscle fibers of the posterior part of the buccinator with the pharyngeal muscle.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does the buccinator muscle do?

The buccinator muscle is primarily involved in chewing or mastication. It tightens the cheek and holds it close to the teeth, which pushes food toward the tongue, and prevents injury to the inner lining of the cheek. It is also involved in blowing, sucking, swallowing, and the secretion of saliva from the parotid duct.

Is the Buccinator a muscle of facial expression?

Yes, the buccinator is involved in certain movements of the mouth, and so, plays a part in some facial movements. This includes movements related to the actions of chewing and blowing air (e.g., playing a trumpet.)

What is buccinator mechanism?

The buccinator muscle contracts when the mouth closes, and relaxes when it opens. This helps hold the cheek close to the teeth, assisting in chewing and preventing injury to the inner lining of the cheek.

What is the origin of buccinator?

The three parts of the buccinator (superior, inferior, and posterior) originate from different locations. The superior part originates from the maxilla, the inferior part originates from the mandible, and the posterior part originates from the pterygomandibular raphe.

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